It’s time to END trophy hunting.
Killing animals for pleasure is cruel, unnecessary, and has no place in a civilised society.
Humans have no right to take the life of an animal for recreation. Animals experience suffering and pain when they are hunted for trophies. Killing endangered wildlife for pleasure only helps push them even further towards extinction.
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting calls for:
- Governments to ban trophy hunting and the import and export of hunting trophies
- Effective enforcement of existing national and international laws against trophy hunting, with tough penalties for offenders
- An immediate halt to the trade in trophies of vulnerable, threatened or endangered species
- Trophy hunting exemptions to be removed from existing international conservation agreements
- Negotiations to commence on a comprehensive global agreement banning trophy hunting
“Trophy hunting fees support conservation/well-managed trophy hunting can support conservation”
A US Congressional study – the most comprehensive of its kind – which looked into this claim and reviewed dozens of scientific studies found little if any evidence of purported conservation benefits. Species popular with trophy hunters are all in decline, and trophy hunting is contributing directly to their ongoing decline. The claim that trophy hunting helps conservation is rather like trying to claim that promoting smoking helps fight lung cancer because taxes from cigarettes go towards the healthcare system. If trophy hunters were serious about wanting to support conservation, they would donate the vast sums of money they can afford to kill animals for fun directly to conservation.
“Trophy hunting fees support development/creates jobs/funds anti-poaching work etc”
97% of hunting fees stay within the hunting industry. Very few locals are ever employed by safari companies. Nature tourism generates 40 times as much revenue as trophy hunting and is far more likely to employ local people. Trophy hunting contributes only a tiny fraction of both GDP and even total tourism income in African countries. The claim that trophy hunting supports the local economy is like claiming the drug trade generates prosperity and provides employment in deprived areas: whether or not it’s true, it is not an excuse to support a manifestly immoral industry.
“The principal threats to wildlife are habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, not trophy hunting”
Wildlife unfortunately faces multiple threats today. Every threat must be taken seriously when populations are so vulnerable. The species most popular with trophy hunters are all declining rapidly and are now so vulnerable that any threat can have catastrophic consequences. The loss of a single male lion or bull elephant can mean the loss of vital genetic resources that can put an entire local population at risk, impacting the species’ viability as a whole. The trophy hunting industry has awards which actively encourages large numbers of trophies to be taken, including of endangered species. In the past decade, for instance, trophy hunters have taken 10,000 lion trophies. Today there are just 20,000 wild lions left.
“Regulations ensure trophy hunting is sustainable/does not impact threatened species”
A loophole in CITES – the agreement meant to protect endangered species from hunters and poachers – allows trophy hunters to kill even ‘appendix 1’ species, the most critically endangered wildlife. A poacher cannot kill an elephant to sell its tusks. But a trophy hunter can kill the same elephant and take the same tusks. In either case, a vulnerable elephant is tragically and needlessly killed. The number of lion trophies taken has actually gone up since the killing of Cecil. CITES clearly isn’t working. It classifies trophy hunting as a non-commercial activity, which is ludicrous given the vast sums of money trophy hunters pay to kill animals for their entertainment.
“Banning trophy hunting could have negative consequences for wildlife”
Countries such as Brazil and Costa Rica already ban trophy hunting. France, Australia and the Netherlands have all banned wildlife trophy imports. No one has claimed that these bans have had negative consequences. No species has ever moved into a higher classification of vulnerability as a result of banning trophy hunting or trophy imports. There is no conservation plan for any endangered species in the world that includes trophy hunting as an essential component of its strategy. It is simply false – as well as patently ludicrous – to say that killing animals is good for them!
10 key facts & figures
- Over the past decade, hunters have taken home over 1.7 million “trophies” from animals they have killed for “sport”. More than 200,000 of them were from animals in danger of going extinct.
- Elephants, leopards and lions – which are all threatened – are among the most sought-after animals by trophy hunters. Lion trophy hunting popularity has soared in recent years – despite the uproar over Cecil – while numbers in the wild have fallen significantly. Over the past decade, 10,000 lion trophies have been taken: there are now just 20,000 lions left in the wild.
- There is an increasing popularity in ‘canned hunting’. Some 200 ‘factory farms’ in South Africa have bred thousands of lions in enclosures for cub-petting, lion-walking and cheap, guaranteed trophies. Lionesses are often killed for their bones to make ‘wine’ and ‘cake’ for so-called “traditional medicines” in Asia.
- Around 70% of trophy hunters are American. Of the top 20 countries for trophy hunters, 15 were from European nations. Canada, South Africa and Namibia are the 3 leading exporters of animal trophies, making up approximately 70% of the world market.
- The trophy hunting industry is represented by powerful lobby groups such as the Safari Club International (SCI) which exists to “protect hunters rights”. SCI CEO Paul Babaz recently described his mission as “to protect the freedom to hunt whatever game we choose to hunt”.
- The SCI promotes various award schemes that actively encourage hunters to kill Africa’s “Big 5” and other threatened species. A hunter must kill an elephant, a rhino, a lion, a leopard and a buffalo to get on the “African Big Five Grand Slam” list. Other awards include the “African 29” – which demands a minimum of 29 African wildlife kills.
- Contrary to common perception, CITES – the international agreement to protect threatened species from trade – does not ban trophy hunting, even of species listed in Appendix 1 (animals at greatest risk of extinction). This is despite the convention stating such animals should only be killed “in exceptional circumstances”. CITES exempts trophy hunting from its provisions by classifying it as a “non-commercial” activity alongside scientific research.
- Pro-hunting groups claim that trophy hunting encourages wildlife conservation. However an exhaustive review by a US Congressional Committee found that trophy hunting was directly responsible for population declines of big cats, particularly lions, and that trophy hunting and poaching is currently outpacing the reproductive rate of elephants. Species such as Dorcas gazelles and the Nubian bustard have been all but wiped out by trophy hunters.
- The trophy hunting lobby claims that it supports significant numbers of local jobs. The UN’s World Tourism Organisation says trophy hunting brings in just 1.8% of tourism revenue in these countries, compared to 80% for wildlife watching. As much as 97% of revenue generated by trophy hunting stays within the hunting community or is siphoned off by corrupt government officials. Trophy hunting generates at most 0.03% of GDP in African nations, and just 0.76% of the total number of jobs created by all forms of tourism combined.
- The industry claims that trophy hunting funds anti-poaching work. In fact, trophy hunting provides a cover for illegal poaching, with many of the same people involved in both. One investigation found that 300 rhino horns had been taken by poachers posing as trophy hunters.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly of all – trophy hunting is cruel and inflicts pain and suffering, not just on the target animal but also its offspring. Shooting from a long distance increases the likelihood of non-fatal wounding, which has been found to occur in up to 50% of cases. Trophy hunting groups like SCI encourage hunters to win prizes by using bows and handguns, which increases this risk. Trophy hunters will often avoid headshots – which are most likely to result in instantaneous death – as this could ‘spoil’ the trophy. The killing of females can cause their offspring to starve, while killing of males can lead to infanticide as new males compete for control of a pride/herd, as is often the case with lions for instance.
About our campaign to amend CITES
Many people think that CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora – protects wildlife from poachers and hunters.
In fact, the treaty does not cover trophy hunting at all. As a result, poachers are banned from killing elephants for their tusks. However, trophy hunters are permitted to kill the same elephants for their tusks!
The reason trophy hunting is exempted is that it is considered a “non-commercial” activity, alongside scientific research. This is rather a surprising loophole, particularly given the vast sums of money individual trophy hunters are prepared to pay to kill wild animals for trophies and that the trophy hunting industry itself claims to be a multi-million dollar industry!
The treaty classifies animals at serious risk of extinction as “Appendix I” species, whilst “Appendix II” species are also considered to be under threat. Despite stating that Appendix I species should only be “traded” in “exceptional circumstances”, the reality is that hundreds of critically endangered Appendix I animals are permitted to be killed by hunters for their trophies every year.
With many of the most iconic wild animals popular with trophy hunters in serious decline, it is clear that CITES is failing to protect endangered wildlife.
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting wants the treaty to either be amended to cover trophy hunting or replaced altogether with a global convention that outlaws the killing of wildlife for commercial or ‘recreational’ purposes, with tough penalties for offenders.
About our campaign to ban U.K. trophy imports
Britain has been a vocal supporter of moves to curb the illegal trade in endangered wildlife, and people in the U.K. are rightly proud of our record in progressive animal welfare laws.
Therefore it may come as a surprise to many to learn that the government has allowed hunters to bring home hundreds of trophies of endangered animals that they’ve killed for “sport” in Africa and other countries.
The government has even permitted several tons of ivory from elephants killed by British hunters to be imported. And the number of lion trophies coming into Britain has actually increased since the global outcry over the killing of Cecil the lion.
The British government promised to ban the import of lion trophies unless changes were made by the hunting industry. However it then failed to act. Meanwhile, the governments of France, the Netherlands and Australia have all now stopped allowing hunters from bringing in lion and other trophies.
An investigation by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting has found that government officials in Britain have given the green light to hunters to bring home elephant ears, trunks, feet and skins, as well as tusks. It also revealed that other trophies currently coming into Britain include those of hippos, leopards, and rhinos. The government has even permitted hunters to bring in trophies of ‘Appendix I’ species, which are considered the most critically endangered animals.
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting has drafted an Early Day Motion which has been tabled in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith calling for a ban on hunting trophy imports. It has won the support of one quarter of all MPs representing every political party. A petition in support of the EDM has 120,000 signatures, while an open letter to Defra Minister Michael Gove has been signed by over 50 of Britain’s leading public figures.
About our Botswana Elephants campaign
Did you know that Botswana, a southern African nation roughly the size of France, is home to ONE THIRD of all the world’s remaining African elephants?
While elephant populations in many countries have been falling dramatically, Botswana’s elephants have been faring much better. This is largely because the country BANNED trophy hunting in 2014 – because of the decline in elephants that the country had been experiencing when trophy hunting was still legal.
In 2018, the country elected a new President who appears determined to BRING BACK trophy hunting. His Vice President has made clear his support for the move, and the country’s Parliament has voted in favour of calling for the government to allow trophy hunting to resume. The President has ordered a “public consultation” on the proposal.
Trophy hunting of Botswana’s elephants could be disastrous for the species, not just in Botswana but as a whole. With other populations apparently in free-fall, Botswana remains the last hope for ensuring this magnificent creature doesn’t enter the history books as yet another animal that has gone extinct thanks to human persecution.
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting has led international moves to stop trophy hunting of elephants being reintroduced. Our petition to the President attracted 250,000 signatures in the space of just a few weeks. A number of high-profile celebrities also signed our open letter to the President which was handed into the Botswana High Commission in London.
Our campaign appears to have forced the government to put the plans on hold…for now. However we will need to keep up the pressure to ensure this disastrous plan never sees the light of day.
Why trophy hunting in Botswana would be a disaster for African Elephants
by Joe Mitchell (aged 14)
The Elephant has been around for a long time, with fossil evidence showing that there has been over 300 species walking the planet over the last 55 million years. It’s hard to think that something which has survived and thrived for so long could be even knocked by anything.
Enter humanity… In the distant past, elephants were hunted for food. Now though it is hunted for sport, including trophy hunting, which is literally the hunting and killing of an animal for a trophy to take back home, which in the case of an elephant is usually a tusk. An African Elephant tusk is a trophy that all hunters dream to have on their wall – so much so that in recent years the population of elephants has plummeted.
As recently as the 1970s there was over 1 million wild African Elephants, and perhaps as many as 5 or even 10 million at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there is estimated to be only 415,000 wild African Elephants left in the wild, with ivory poaching and trophy hunting being among the key contributors to the fall in numbers.
Trophy hunting is a hotly disputed ‘Sport’ with many people strongly defending both sides. Some question the morals of it, while others make claims that trophy hunting has benefits such as bringing in money for the country’s economy. However this particular claim is just not true; in fact, the UN World Tourism Organisation says trophy hunting brings in just 1.8 percent of tourism revenue compared to 80% for wildlife watching.
Last November, US President Donald Trump decided to allow elephant trophies to be imported into the US again. Since the year 2000, the US has imported nearly 5,000 elephant trophies. Two out of every 3 trophy hunters is American.
Botswana is located between Zimbabwe and Namibia in south Africa and is mostly desert, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari desert. It is also home to one third of the world’s decimated African Elephant population. Luckily, trophy hunting of elephants was banned in Botswana in 2014 by the country’s then-President Ian Khama because of declining numbers.
However, the country’s new President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took up office in April of this year, has launched a public consultation about lifting the trophy hunting ban, and his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane, publicly supports the lifting of the ban. This could spell disaster for the African Elephant, as trophy hunting of elephants is also currently allowed in Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa – and none of these countries have good track records.
- In Zimbabwe, populations have collapsed by between 40% and incredibly in some places by up to 75%.
- The elephant population in Tanzania has managed to fall by 60% in just 5 years! And in Mozambique? It’s halved…
- Zambia however, really takes the biscuit… in the late 1960s it had one of the largest Elephant populations in Africa with numbers estimated at over 200,000. And now? There could be fewer than 10,000 of these animals left.
African Elephants are listed as “Vulnerable”, and numbers are still declining as poaching goes on, taking the lives of up to 100 Elephants per day for the illegal ivory trade. Whereas hunting of these animals is currently illegal in Botswana, if this changed these animals may be doomed.
Sign the petition and send President Masisi a direct message via Facebook and Twitter!